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tv   Your Business  MSNBC  September 30, 2012 7:30am-8:00am EDT

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this letter recently landed on my desk. i am a 35-year-old female. my occupancy is 20%. i drive a car and work seven days a week and never get away. help! we decided she is in need of a "your business" makeover. that's coming up next on "your business."
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hi, there, everybody. i am j.j. ramberg. welcome to "your business." recently we receive add letter from a woman intrapreneur in trouble. when she heard about our makeover series she sent aus plea for help. we called her up and after talking to her about her situation we knew our team of experts just might be able to bail her out and that's how we decided to give this inkeeper a
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"your business" makeover. they are on the road again. just passing through the historic mystic connecticuts. >> we're getting close. it looks like we arrived. a huge tourist destination. let's get to work. let's help this business. you must be erica. >> i am. >> i am the author of "the pumpkin plants." >> i heard you called msnbc and you need help. >> i do. >> 36-year-old erica hall runs the seven-room bed and breakfast for eight years until she bought it in 2011. >> it's absolutely beautiful and secluded. >> in her letter she told us she is so trapped by daily chores and outdated technology that she has absolutely no time to build
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her business. >> sometimes i feel like i am a hamster in a cage and running in place but not getting anywhere, just spinning the wheel, you know, and stuck stuck. >> from where she sits it may seem like she is stuck, but that's not how we see it. what she needs right now is a makeover. >> gardening, repairs, accounting, stkrb. >> you are a chef. >> yes. cooking. reservations and fielding the phone calls. >> the problem with the way she runs her business became clear. >> so your inn is the classic hub and spoke model, and many businesses that struggle in growing to the next level of struck like this. the owner, that's you, are in the middle. what i want to do is transition this into a traditional organizational chart.
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>> while mastering the daily details is necessary, the owner needs to understand the big picture, and that's where mike's questions revealed important gaps. >> how many people do you need? >> i have not, like, done a specific accounting, but my guesstimate is that i need to sellout weekends year round. >> the same often goes for keeping up with current technology. >> so you take reservation phone calls -- >> we don't have online booking. >> you are taking the rezerizations yourself? >> yes, all of them. >> not only was the style out of date, but the pictures were old and even some of the rooms themselves looked in need of a makeover. that's when we called in the your business swat team. first up, andrew is an expert
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decorater from pennsylvania that specializes in inns and hotels and we asked him to look at the website and pick the one room most in need. >> meet andrew. >> nice to meet you. >> the room they decided to makeover is here in the cottage. it is called chateau eve if that >> a lot of colors are heavy. not outdated, just heavy. and it's personal, you know, we can't take personality and this is not your home anymore and this is your business. whaeufp >> what is your feelings about what andrew is saying? >> well, i didn't like it about the dark colors, because i get a lot of comments about the dark -- >> it's not a putdown. as an artist you need to step
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away from where you look -- >> i also don't want to look like every other single b & b out there. >> i want to get to the brass tacks. first impression? >> oh, my god. >> really? >> yes. the website is bad and the picture is bad and this is proof of the pudding. >> what about erica? >> erica is stubborn. >> i am skeptical about what he will produce but i am willing to give him a shot to see what he can do. >> what is the room? >> a zero. >> the jury is still out. >> we gave andrew a modest budget is 24 hours to show his stuff. meanwhile, mike wasted no time introducing erica to the next mesh of the team. dawn is a local accountant that specializes in quick books
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financial software. >> give a sense of how you are doing accounting now? >> i'm not really. >> how do you track stuff? >> i don't, i have money coming in and pay my bills and i see what is in my business checking account and that's it. >> you are starting to blow my mind. how do you pay taxes? >> i pay sales tax, but for my 2011 taxes, i just guessed. >> you guessed? >> i guesstimated, and sent in an amount. >> i hope you guessed high, because -- >> that's a technical foul we call it. >> shall we go and look at the books. >> show us where we are. literally, we want to see it. this is the office? >> yes. >> glad to see you have accounting records. >> okay.
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>> this is the previous accounting record. >> you followed their system. >> and go ahead and hit finish. >> all right. >> we created the bank account. >> erica is taking care of something upstairs, and what is your first impression? >> a hot mess. again, not abnormal, but frightening. >> can a business really operate like this? >> they can, but not for very long. won't be very long like this. >> you feel confident we can fix it. >> it can always be fixed. >> andrew was working on the chateu, there was new photos being taken for the website. >> he is a photograph specifically for bed and breakfasts and inns in the nation, and he is helping us out
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here. >> nice to meet you. >> i am setting up the lights in here, you know, just interior photography, and a lot of it has to do with creating your own light. >> erica was so eager to see the new photography that she persuaded him to give her a preview. >> wow, that's so nice. that's the patio. >> so far erica loves the photos. she has a new accounting system that she didn't even know she needed and a room makeover that she's not quite sure that she even wants, but she is still so busy working in her business doing all these daily chores and hasn't yet figured out a way to get on top of it and guide her business. so when we come back, more surprises and a plan. >> if you are looking to land a big break through or even meeting with investors, a well-crafted pitch is one of the
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most important things a small business owner should have, yet so many people get it completely wrong. our guests is here to share tips on how to build an elevator pitch that will increase your chances for success. we have the principle and founder of a sales training and sulting form and author of the new book "small message, big impact," and great to see you? >> thank you for having me, j.j. >> let's go through the steps. you have a big idea. how do you get it down to something. number one, define your attention? >> what do i want to have happen as a result of the message? we are all selling something. most importantly when you are selling yourself, and what do you want to have happen as a result of the message? do you want an appointment time or referral or meet the next person that can increase the next opportunity and you design
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your message around that intention? >> what is important about that, too, is you are going to have a different message when you are talking to a potential partner or customer? >> yeah, it keeps you nimble. one response for one listen you are could be different for a response from another listener. >> that build your case. >> start with need. why do they need you and your company and why do they need it now. you have to answer that so what question. a lot of people say well you should use us because we have great customer service and i would say that's nice, but so what? what is it about your customer service that separates you from the competition, and how can you save them time? how can you save them money? how can you save them mental sanity? how can you give them greater security? how can you make something more fun? those are need issues for
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building your case. >> get scrappy. what do you mean by that? >> it's difficult to capture somebody's attention in today's marketplace so you have to get more reeightive to capture their attention, so what unique way can they open the conversation, and they will say that was cleaver and from that you can move into that core message or case. >> and then you are memorable as well. and speak in your own voice. if something writes something for you it will never sound authentic. >> yeah, when you go to a comedy show and see a great comedian, you may go home and tell that joke and it never lands in the same way because it's their joke. you have to give yourself permission to engage in a conversation like we are and be yourself. >> what kind of closes can you lose? >> the classic line from a movie where alec baldwin says "a, b,
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c, be always closing." we have to do something as a result of the message. what do you want them to do? set up the next appointment time? set up an introduction? what do you want to have happen? when you ask somebody to do something as a result of the message the higher probability you will get the outcome you are looking for. >> thank you. elevator pitch is one of the most important things for people to get good at. >> thank you for having me. when we come back, a tip from the new book on why you should never say no. and our panel talks about where you start when you want to end your business. we travel back to connecticut as we make sure potential customers have no reservations about staying at erica's bed & breakfast.
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on every one of our cards there's a date. a reminder... that before this date, we have to exceed expectations. we have to find new ways to help make life easier, more convenient and more rewarding. it's the reason why we don't have costumers. we have members. american express. welcome in. a few years ago i was here on fifth and new york city, and a woman walked in and said do you have yoga here, and the receptionist said we have paw
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lotties and a cardioloty class. i asked the owners about this and they said, oh, yeah, that is completely by design. we tell our employees never say no because if you can get around saying no, you can recruit a potential client. it's your business, tip number 109, never say no to a potential customer. as we saw earlier, erica may be getting more help than she expected and a new decor she is worried she may regret. watch as they give her the tools she needs to take control of her business. it is morning at abby's lantern hill in, and the owner, erica hall, is showing mike the ingredients to the delicious french toast breakfast.
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>> yeah, it's a secret. i have this bottle of vanilla that i made myself, i take vanilla beans, and chop them up and put them in vodka. >> what? >> yeah. >> that is good! >> erica's in luck today because we called trip adviser.com, and when he looked at her site she had lots of suggestions. one of erica's big concerns was filling her weekday vacancies. >> trying to bring them in the weekdays is what most properties struggle with. >> they gave a discount. >> the kinds of offers that extend the weekend, give them a reason to stay a little longer and fill the rooms.
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>> brian gave erica's a year's worth of extra services designed to increase the trafpic. >> great suggestions, and not too difficult to implement. >> and you have one last surprise? >> we do. i thought about one of the best experiences i had at the b & b and it was the warm bread, and we have a surprise for you out in the car. >> wow. looks awesome. oh, my gosh. a bread maker. awesome. >> load it up at night and have fresh bread in the morning, and you wake up to the wonderful smell. >> and then we have jeff from reservations. >> i want to introduce you to jeff bryce, and she does systems for inns just like this. >> erica, it's good to meet you. we will match up our reservation
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page to your website and so chase the experience that you offer there with your rooms and allow guests to book there online. >> great. >> what is your thought. fears? >> i am used to make the personal contact and getting a sense of the person that will be coming in. >> when you cut two hours down to what, per day? >> i can see you cut that time in half initially and then over time that majority of the time spent will be spent in other areas. >> i am hearing an hour a day, times 365 hours, and that sounds like a vacation maybe. >> pretty much. >> the footsteps i wanted to hear. denise? >> owner of the s3 agency offered to re-do erica's website incorporating all of the new elements. >> this really has a modern
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flare to it so we call it modern rustic, because it shows you, again, a big picture up front and shows you a few aspects on the home page. you see that, but it has the book now. people want to have the easy book now. >> first impression? >> my impression is i like this one better and it's more exciting and more hip and modern. >> with the new web design chosen and the reservations and online system in place filling the rooms should take less effort, but what about the cottage makeover. what will erica think? >> let's get her in position. are you ready? >> 3, 2, 1 -- >> wow! wow! really cool. yeah, definitely. it's very different. is it the same bed? >> yes. it's a new head board.
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>> wow, so cool. that is neat. wow! you guys made that? >> yeah. >> that's amazing. you took the mirror and painted it and it looks so much spot. i would definitely say compared to where we came from, i would give it a nine, for sure. >> okay. the customers will give it a -- >> a good nine. nine to ten. >> i think so, too. >> you have more income coming from it now. >> definitely. >> there's a lot of things we created for it. >> they were happy with it. they seemed fairly happy before. now, they are going to be blown away. >> it's look k like she may have finally got beyond the details and on top of her business. >> all right on top of her business. >> what's your thoughts. >> i'm flab gasted by how far i have gone with the business
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through you guys in two days. it's been amazing, new photos, online booking system. >> when everyone is running around like a wild person, yourself included, i'm drawing this and tracking what your roles are. i documented the roles you play. these 25 positions are played by you. before, you spent zero hours running it. now, you are four hours a day to run and control the business. >> absolutely. >> it was a pleasure hanging out. >> you, too, mike. thanks so much. >> was this makeover successful? let's see if there's room at the inn. peter sherman is the co-founder of the b & b team, stella
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grizont and vanessa o'connell is the small business editor at the wall street journal. great to see you. >> great to be here. >> thank you for your help with the makeover. we appreciate it. you went to visit erica. what did you any? >> i was surprised to see the property look as nice as it did. from her online presence, i had a different impression. >> isn't that amazing? how important is the online? >> they have three seconds to get their attention. they are going to hit the back button. >> a lot of business owners are intimidated by their websites. look what a difference that could make for her, in terms of the online reservations. for retailers, we have seen they can use the web to cut out the middleman and sell direct to consumers. you know, the web can transform all kinds of businesses now.
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>> what do you think it is. what is holding people back from doing something that is hard? they are doing it manually. >> i think it's a lack of knowledge of where to go. you have to shop those services that can help, whether you are a retailer or b & b or wine maker. but, i think it can be intimidating to get to the bottom of the pricing of the services. a lot of them from freemium. >> the thing mike responded to that dawn responded to is the finances. >> oh, my god, indeed. that was scary. i think what happens is, you know, it's important to pay attention to what you do so well. she was glowing when it came to her french toast. she loves that part. if you are not good at something, don't just ignore it or do anything, find someone who can help you. again, that took a few hours of set up.
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go to task rabbit, e-lance and hire people for a few hours to come do what you did for this woman. >> i imagine jou see this a lot. they forget about the fngss. >> you go in and it's important for inkeepers, like any business person to know what money is coming in, what's generating the income and what are they spending the money on. if they don't know where they are spending the money, they have no idea whether they are profitable at all, whether they are three rooms or 30 rooms, or they are running a retail business, you have to know your cost of doing business or you are going to end up spending more than you should. >> the key is, it took two days. thank you for your help. it was a fun makeover. i'm happy things are working out for her and you loved it. >> good story. >> thanks.
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>> it's time to answer some of "your business" questions. vanessa and stella are with us once again. the first is getting out of your business. >> here i am, 16 years into it. i'm ready to sell my business, need a place to go to find out how to make it happen. >> where do you start? a lot of people get into this situation. they are good at running it. >> congrats for 16 years in. i would go to bizbuyseldom. you can post your business for sale and find a broker to help you make the sale. the first thing you want to do before you post is figure out your sellers -- you want to figure out how much earnings the company makes and go three years back into the records and have all your numbers ready. once you understand the true earnings, you want to understand what's the multiple that you can sell your business at? for example, technology
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companies can sell at a multiple, up to ten times what the business is earning. a manufacturing company might sell at four times. you want to understand and not undersell your business. >> how likely is it for anyone out there who has a business, they are doing okay, not going gang busters, it's not a fast growing technology company, is it likely they will be able to sell their business? >> we looked at this a couple weeks ago. i don't mean to be a huge downer, but a lot of business owners are struggling to sell their businesses. they are feeling stuck. so, the valuations for businesses are down. sales prices are down. still. so, what we have found is a lot of business owners are postponing retirement five years or longer. some have to agree to an earn out deal where they stick around. they are feeling ready to wash their hands, but they have to stick around and the business has to meet performance targets
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to get payment. this is a common problem, especially for baby boomer business owners who started their businesses at a time when things were going well and there was this american dream they were after. here we are, we are out of recession but the economy is stagnant. >> when to ask for funding. >> is it a good idea for us to borrow money from the bank before the savings are depleted or should we wait, should we continue to burn through those and to live zero left? >> i think you never want to hit zero. >> yes. to answer this question, i guess the first thing that comes to mind is you have to think about the likelihood of failure. failure two years out, three years out, four years out. you have to think about, you know, who is going to get hurt the most in this? what's very hard for people who start businesses that don't get
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outside investors is that it's their savings. they feel the failure more than if they had a venture capital backer. if you borrow money from friends and family, they may suffer. >> you should be talking to people about getting money if you need it, don't get down to the wire. >> i say business is like dating. you never want to be desperate. if you have the chance now, while you are ahead to get padding room, you are not only creating a cushion for yourself, but developing a relationship with your lender. when it comes time to really need cash, you have a credit history established. >> stella and vanessa, thank you so much for all your help. appreciate it. >> thanks. to learn more about today's show click on our website, it's openforum.com/yourbusiness. you'll find all of today's segments plus web exclusive
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content with information to help your business grow. you can follow us on twitter@msn twitter@msnbcyo twitter@msnbcyourbiz. >> next week, meet andrew. they are maintaining many of new york city's iconic water towers for 150 years. what does it take for one family to build a business over four generations? will his son carry the business into the fifth? until then, i'm j.j. ramberg. remember, we make "your business" our business. we make a simple thing. a thing that helps you buy other things. but plenty of companies do that. so we make something else. we help make life a little easier,
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